Not so very long ago, some of us were looking forward to this past weekend as being the first under Prime Minister Miliband’s newly-formed government, to be capped by a cracking high-stakes match against our old London enemies.
One surprise election result — and one equally surprising Liverpool collapse — later and we had been left with an all-round damp squib.
I was already long since fed up of contemplating five more years of Cameron and, halfway through Sunday’s snorefest, I was equally fed up with the routine rigmarole unfolding on the pitch. I’m not saying that the two teams were, in football parlance, “already on the beach”.
But they were certainly in duty-free, inspecting the Speedo selections. This was about as far removed from the Fergie-Wenger classics as you could get.
You couldn’t really blame them, I suppose. Arsenal and United both appeared to be resigned to their likely fates and approached the task in hand with about as much gusto as could be expected. The press had filled pre-match previews with hopeful guff about “players playing for their futures!” but there wasn’t much sign of that.
One player who has every right to feel that he’s already confirmed his ongoing passage with us is Ashley Young, who was probably the pick of the Red bunch, with our heart-throb Mata running him close.
Herrera’s smart finish adds yet more brownie points to his once-empty column, and one must surely have faith that LvG would be perverse to let any of that trio leave.
The miserable Falcao, and his substitute Van Persie, can obviously have no such confidence, and there’d been much talk in the run-up of one possible replacement this summer: Gareth Bale.
This is not idle paper talk, either.
There are dark forces who have been at work since before Christmas trying to engineer such a possibility, with its ultimate success largely hinging on a successful resolution of the David De Gea situation.
By “successful“, I do mean as far as Real Madrid are concerned, of course — United were still coming up with desperate ruses to try to tempt DDG to stay as recently as Saturday, I am told.
Fear the worst, though. And I do wonder how ‘convenient’ yesterday’s minor back injury might appear by the time United next take the pitch, at Hull on Sunday.
The Old Trafford season thus ends as it started, with a whimper rather than a bang. Which is fitting: It reflects the dominant impression received most fortnights by the 75,000 home faithful who, lest we forget, had been driven as far as booing by late midwinter.
As for the attempts to revive the Old Trafford atmosphere, the jury remains unconvinced.
The new singing section has certainly had its moments, and has its fervent supporters, but the overall effect has been akin to that of a gnat biting an elephant’s arse. The sad fact remains that 75,000 inside an all-mod-cons design still make less noise than just 40,000 did in the old primitive ‘bowl’ of the early 90s. The demographics always have the last word, I’m afraid. Get the young local lads in, and the problem will sort itself. But there’s no sign of the will to make the financial sacrifices necessary to achieve that. Why would the Glazers care, anyway? At least the still-deafening awayday brigades are keeping the Red end up, and they’ll give their last concert of the season on Humberside on Sunday.
Some of them won’t be too bothered if Brucey takes the points he needs from us either. Especially if it means Newcastle go down.
“I would love, just love it,” as someone once said...
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